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DeWitt Clinton – How a School Can Change Us All

January 28, 2013 pm31 10:01 pm

Danny Schecter is a filmmaker, and a DeWitt Clinton graduate. And he’s making a documentary film about Clinton. The DoE was going to close Clinton, but afraid of a fight with a loyal alumni, they chose to try to move in two small schools instead. Those of us in the Bronx know, those schools are the first steps towards closing DWC. So we will fight. And Danny’s work is part of that. Below are a two-minute promo and a five-minute trailer.

Both excellent, by the way. Professional. Political. He knows this is an assault on public education, and on democracy. And he tells us, without lecturing us.

Clinton was on the list of the New York City Department of Education’s closure targets this Fall. But it had been targeted once before. Over a decade ago, the DoE brought a small school, Celia Cruz, into the building. This tactic is not new: they bring in the small school or schools to break up the physical plant and begin a process that leads to closure. But at Clinton the DoE lost – the alumni intervened and the small school was located elsewhere.
The DoE’s bullying has a cowardly side: they did not want to fight the alumni who had put them in their place once before. Thus they chose instead to move in the mini-schools…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2013 pm28 7:35 pm 7:35 pm

    God Bless the students, teachers, faculty and staff Alumni. of DWC …What a wonderfully strong & powerful voice you are. Your actions are the true spirit of America Clintonians……….”Fight the Good fight” (Teacher ’93-07)

  2. jack permalink
    February 10, 2013 pm28 1:31 pm 1:31 pm

    The problem at DWC and in the system in general is the fact that they (the DOE) won’t let teachers concentrate on teaching. Instead they have us in endless meetings developing “curriculum maps” and re-inventing lesson plans that have worked well for years. One year we are focusing on project based learning, and then it’s teaching backwards, now it’s the common core. What’s next? Ask McGraw Hill. The concentration is never on content but on the delivery method du jour and on endless new “Danielson” influenced models of teaching. How long will Danielson last? Now, we are being forced to give students long multiple choice tests on material they haven’t learned yet that are somehow supposed to assess their skills and set a baseline. As an experienced teacher I can assess my students in a far more meaningful way by simply giving them a short writing assignment. Another problem is the so called “comp” job. Experienced teachers, actually some of the best teachers are pulled out of the class-room to become “deans” who patrol the hallways. If the security agents were better supervised this waste of teaching man-power would not be necessary. The department assistant is another way that some of the best teachers are pulled from the class-room; they work the book-rooms or do other jobs that a school aide could be doing. I certainly don’t blame or fault the teachers for any of this; I blame the administrators for creating these positions. Lastly, I sincerely wish the UFT would work to eliminate such a waste of talented man-power. Let teachers teach!!!!!

    I am well aware of the fact that sometimes these “comp” positions were created to prevent the excessing of teachers which wouldn’t be necessary if the DOE didn’t constantly short the schools of funding, especially at the last minute. As Jon Stewart attempted to explain to Ms. Rhee on the Daily Show (must see TV) last week, constantly changing what is expected of teachers creates a level of anxiety that can be demoralizing. Ultimately, when it comes time to decide upon the future of DWC, our statistics are often cited as a reason for the school staying open or being closed. If we let teachers teach, focus on teaching and not the methodology du jour, then our statistics would certainly be better! DWC has “elements” of greatness to this day. The job we do with at-risk students is incomparable but is not reflected accurately in statistics such as our four year graduation rate. Our athletic program is still one of the finest in the country never mind the city. Our honors program and myriad AP classes are glowing examples of what DWC still does so well. We have some of the best young as well more experienced teachers in the city. At the core of DWC there exists an uncommon camaraderie among our staff. Our current administration has done an amazing job battling the incompetence and constant sabotaging by the DOE. I see a light at the end of the tunnel as the mayor finally “sunsets.” I can only hope that we can stop the co-location currently being planned and instead be allowed to work to restore DWC to its rightful place as one of the top schools in the city.

    • February 11, 2013 pm28 8:22 pm 8:22 pm

      It is always hazardous in Teacherland at Dewitt Clinton to stand up and speak the truth while others sit down as a huddled mass of sheep and follow uncritically the failed policies of their “canary’, ladder climbing administrators and educational theorists who make sure they are only “teachers of teachers”. When you stand up at DWCHS the bureaucrats immediately target you for the guillotine or, at best, a program of “sinkhole” classes.

      I have followed avidly this blog and the contributions of Jack with admiration. He writes with sagacity and,yes, courage as there are administrators at Clinton who don’t want the light shined on some of our dirty little secrets. Several teachers at Clinton who are graduates of the Bronx High School of Science (which I’ve lost a great deal of respect for ) tell me they could be creative thinkers if they were permitted to be.If you can’t practice it yourself how do you expect to teach our students to be creative thinkers? Instead virtually all teachers jump through the hoops put in our way by the “Tweed” Quality Review sell outs and the other
      other Doomberg enablers.

      How ironic that the very people who presided in the decline over the last 30 years of what was once considered a model of urban public education are now the masters and sages that are going to revitalize the system. On their stewardship they transformed the NYC school system into a national disgrace. .Who do they answer to? Who reviews their
      performance and efficacy as educators? Maybe we should hire the Captain of the Valdez to run the Department of Navy.

      In discussions about how to resurrect Clinton our administrators speak about “pushing out ” students to improve graduation rates as if we are making sausage and not a single word about improving their thinking and developing the architecture of their minds.

      When an American high school becomes a non-academic institution the new experts are guidance counselors, social workers, peer mediation advisers, school psychologists,
      heads of programs like the “Freshman House” or “College Transition Initiative”, etc.,etc.
      This is the new reality at DeWitt Clinton.Finally, why are so many teachers, as Jack alludes to, working so hard to get out of mainstream teaching at Clinton?

      Whatever happened to the college model of Department Chairman , which I believe is a rotated position, and where teachers remain as teachers throughout their careers?
      Just a crazy thought I suppose. Instead we have a factory model that we are told is bad for our students but somehow necessary and productive for teachers.

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